Friday, 29 June 2012

Special Needs In Strange Worlds Reading List

Last month Bookworm Blues (Sarah Chorn) posted a series of guest blogs on a very important - and under discussed  - topic: disabilities in science fiction and fantasy.  I'd started a reading list on this topic months ago, but couldn't figure out a way of displaying it without seeming condescending.  So I put my incomplete list aside and went on to do other displays.

Then Elspeth Cooper did this post on disability in fantasy, and Bookworm Blues decided to do her amazing blog series.  And Dan Goodman suggested the amazing, and respectful, title: Special Needs in Strange Worlds.  If you haven't read her posts, they start here and end here.  She also did a half way point round up with links, here, if you don't want to scroll through all the posts.  With the suggestions offered in the posts and a wonderful title, my endcap/reading list was back in business.

A few notes on this list.  First, it's incomplete.  This is a topic that to a large extent requires having read the book in order to know if the book fits the topic.  And it's impossible to read everything.  I've tried to categorize the books I had listed into general categories and then subdivided issues that had several books each.  Even then some books fit several categories, and some categories are flexible.  I tried to leave off the 'magical cure' books, but left the books with blind characters who have second sight as a compensation for losing their physical sight.  I also recognize that some of the books deal with disability in more detail than others.

I wasn't looking for mystery books, which is why there are only two (+ one from the comments), and only mentioned general fiction books I - and those I spoke to (at work and at home) - knew.

If you have a suggestion, please leave the title of the book, author and which category it fits.  I'll try to add them to the list.  If I get too many suggestions I may just let people read the comments to find more.

I'd meant to post this list at the end of May to somewhat co-incide with the Bookworm Blues posts, but I wanted an endcap, and that takes a month (from ordering the books until it's up).  This is an important issue and I wanted to bring it to the attention of more people.


I wanted to credit those who helped bring this endcap to life, so I've mentioned them with shelf talkers on the display (at the World's Biggest Bookstore, Toronto).

SFX did a list, with several characters I missed and subsequently added, here.
Sarah Chorn (Bookworm Blues) did a post on SF Signal where she mentions several books on this topic.
Ada Hoffman has an excellent list of books containing autistic characters, many of which she has reviewed.  Do to the size of her list I've chosen not to add the titles here.

*List updated April 3, 2014.

Essays:
Disability in Science Fiction: Representations of Technology as Cure - Kathryn Allan, Ed.

Physical Issues:
The Blade Itself - Joe Abercrombie
Song of the Beast - Carol Berg
Rogue Moon - Algis Budrys (amputee)
Young Miles - Lois McMaster Bujold
Songs of the Earth - Elspeth Cooper
Mind Games - Carolyn Crane (hypochondriac)
Silent Dances - A. C. Crispin & Kathleen O'Malley
The Scar - Sergey & Marina Dyachenko
Talus and the Frozen King - Graham Edwards (damaged arm)
Earth Girl - Janet Edwards
Angel Fall - Susan Ee
Ether - Ben Ehrenreich
Miserere - Teresa Frohock
Handbook for Dragon Slayers - Merrie Haskell
Silver - Rhiannon Held (+ mental)
Spark - Brigid Kemmerer
Wolfsangel - M. D. Lachlan (mute)
Brood of Bones - A. E. Marling (sleeping sickness)
Game of Thrones - George R. R. Martin
The Ship Who Sang - Anne McCaffrey
Elric: Stealer of Souls - Michael Moorcock
Mister Monday - Garth Nix (asthma)
Galatea 2.2 - Richard Powers
Enclave - Kit Reed (epilepsy)
Scourge of the Betrayer - Jeff Salyards
15 Miles - Rob Scott
The Dream-Maker's Magic - Sharon Shinn
Hollow World - Michael J. Sullivan (idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis)
Sideshow - Sheri Tepper
Quarantine: The Loners - Lex Thomas (epilepsy) 
Among Others - Jo Walton
Blindsight - Peter Watts (epilepsy)
Beyond the Shadows - Brent Weeks
Shadowmarch - Tad Williams
Amped - Daniel Wilson (has technological implant that prevents seizures)
One-Armed Queen - Jane Yolen
Westlake Soul - Rio Youers (vegetative state)
Chronicles of Amber - Roger Zelazny

Wheelchair:
Memory of Earth - Orson Scott Card 
Immobility - Brian Evenson
Heaven's Shadow - David Goyer
Dune - Frank Herbert
The Rapture - Liz Jensen
The Drawing of the Three - Stephen King
Fenrir - M. D. Lachlan
Last Hero - Terry Pratchett
Apollo's Outcasts - Allen Steele

Blindness:
The Daemon Prism - Carol Berg 
Eyes to See - Joseph Nassise 
WWW.Wake - Robert J. Sawyer 
Sojourn - R. A. Salvatore
Persistence of Vision - John Varley
Mind Games - Kiersten White
The Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham 

Mental Issues:
Debris - Jo Anderton
Xenocide - Orson Scott Card (OCD)
A Turn of Light - Julie Czerneda
Alien Shore - C. S. Friedman (also has an autistic character)
The Diamond in the Window - Jane Langton (children's book)
Dragonsinger - Anne McCaffrey
Swans & Klons - Nora Olsen
Bleeding Violet - Dia Reeves (bipolar)
Dying Inside - Robert Silverberg (ability to read minds destroys life)
Eight Million Gods - Wen Spencer (OCD)
Dracula - Bram Stoker (insanity)
More Than Human - Theodore Sturgis
Lost & Found - J. Sheehan (synesthesia)
Red Thunder - John Varley

Dyslexia:
Spellwrignt - Blake Charlton
God's War - Kameron Hurley 
Of Blood and Honey - Stina Leicht
The Lightning Thief - Rick Riordan

Autistic:
[Ada Hoffman has an excellent list of books containing characters with autism here.]
World House - Guy Adams
Winds of Khalakovo - Bradley Beaulieu
A Wizard Alone - Diane Duane
Speed of Dark - Elizabeth Moon
Silence - Michelle Sagara
The Real Boy - Anne Ursu (middle grade SF)

Depression:
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep - Philip K. Dick
Lord Foul's Bane - Stephen Donaldson
The Magicians - Lev Grossman
The Fionavar Tapestry - Guy Gavriel Kay
Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
The Lord of the Rings - J. R. R. Tolkien 

Problems With Magic: 
A Spell for Chameleon - Piers Anthony
Assassin's Apprentice - Robin Hobb
Forging the Darksword - Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman

Graphic Novels:
Birds of Prey / Batman (Oracle - wheelchair)
Daredevil (blindness)
Hawkeye (hard of hearing)
Iron Man (heart problems)
With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child - Keiko Tobe (autism)
X-Men (Professor X - wheelchair, Destiny - blindness)

Movies/TV:
Alphas (autism)
Avatar (paraplegic)
Bionic Woman (bionic parts)
Cube (mental)
Dark Angel (paraplegic)
Defendor (mental)
Dr. Who (Davros - quadriplegic)
Guild (Venom is paraplegic)
How to Train a Dragon (Toothless's damaged wing)
Human Race (amputee, deafness - Note: this is a horror movie with lots of gore)
Lawnmower Man (mental issues)
Mantis (paralysis)
Memento (memory loss)
6 Million Dollar Man (bionic parts after accident)
Star Trek (Commander Pike - quadriplegic)
Star Trek: The Next Generation (Geordi La Forge - blindness)
Star Wars (breathing apparatus, dismemberment)
Twin Peaks (chief Gordon Cole was deaf, mental issues)
Unbreakable (brittle bone syndrome)
Wizard of Oz (fear, no heart, etc.)

General Fiction: 
Peter Pan - J. M. Barrie
A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
The Sound and the Fury - William Faulkner
Curious Incident of a Dog in the Nighttime - Mark Haddon (autism)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame - Victor Hugo (partial blindness and deafness)
Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes (mental)
Last Snow - Eric Van Lustbader (dyslexia)
Moby Dick - Herman Melville
Blindness - Jose Saramago
Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck (mental)
Johnny Got His Gun - Dalton Trumbo 
Before I Go To Sleep - S. J. Watson (memory loss)

Mystery:
Mr. Monk Goes to the Firehouse - Lee Goldberg (OCD)
Divine Sacrifice - Tony Hays
You Die Today! - Baynard Kendrick

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great post, and interesting list. I really enjoyed Elspeth Cooper's book.

Kris said...

Great post, and interesting list. I really enjoyed Elspeth Cooper's book

David said...

Heaven's Shadow by David Goyer features an astronaut character in a wheelchair.

Jessica Strider said...

Thanks David, I've added it to the list. :)

Tom said...

To me, The Magicians by Lev Grossman was a book about depression. I recognised so much of the ennui and dissatisfaction the main character had with his life, and it seemed like it couldn't possibly be about anything else. I'd definitely put it in the "depression" list.

RedEyedGhost said...

How about Blindness by Jose Saramago in the "blindness" section :P

Jessica Strider said...

Thanks for the suggestions, I've added the books. @RedEye - I've added it to general fiction (since that's where we shelve Saramago in the store).

Sarah said...

wonderful and thoughtful post -- very interesting idea!

one note, regarding your list of books: "blindness" is by jose saramago!

:)

Jessica Strider said...

Whoops! Thanks for catching that. Good grief. I knew that. Guess I was tired when I added that book in. :P

John D. said...

Fantastic idea, Jessica! Well done!

stardreamer said...

This Alien Shore by C.S. Friedman features one main character who is a multiple and another one who seems to be a high-functioning autistic. So I guess that would go under both Mental Issues and Autism.

A Wizard Alone by Diane Duane features an autistic character, who does not then disappear from the following books but continues to be an active character.

stardreamer said...

And of course after I post I think of another one. Persistence of Vision by John Varley, under Blindness. Especially notable because it postulates an entire society of blind people, in which the sighted protagonist finds himself at a disadvantage.

Joann Lawler said...

There was an early 1930s mystery series about a detective, blinded in WWI, by Baynard Kendrick. The first is called You Die Today! Some were in print in the early 70s when a TV series very loosely based on it, Longstreet, ran for one season. The book series publicized seeing eye dogs, which were a new innovation.

Bibliotropic said...

That's one heck of a comprehensive list! I've only read a fraction of the books listed, and probably seen even fewer of the TV shows and movies, but this gives me an excellent place to start with finding some more good representation in fantasy and sci-fi. Thanks!

Also, I want to visit your bookstore! Maybe at some point I'll have to take a trip out of the dull Maritimes and come browse the aisles for a while. :)

Carl V. Anderson said...

Such a super cool idea to actually display these in the bookstore this way. Nicely done! Would be cool if there could be some local media tie-in to get people into your store to see the display. Thanks for doing this and for also posting about it.

Off to share on Twitter and FB.

Jessica Strider said...

Thanks for all the new comments! I'll add the books mentioned when I get a chance this coming week (I'm currently at work and will be working a bit extra this week due to a holiday).

@Bibliotropic - unfortunately the World's Biggest Bookstore is closing next month, so you'd have to visit soon. The SFF section still looks pretty good but we don't have the selection we used to.

@Carl - the display isn't up anymore. This post originally went up in June of 2012. And with the store closing, I can't redo it (can't order books in and there aren't enough of these left for a new display).

I will try to keep updating this list as I come across new titles.

LBT said...

Should Spell for Chameleon really be on there? The whole point of the story is that the character with "magical issues" actually has EVEN BIGGER POWERS than everybody else, so it's a pretty broken aesop. Plus, there's a huge amount of uber-creepy rape in it:

Grim-faced, looking betrayed, the three girls shook their heads, no. Bink felt sorry for his opposite. How could she avoid being seductive? She was a creature constructed for no other visible purpose than ra--than love. (pg. 57)

Note: Bink is the HERO of this story. The beautiful woman becomes his wife.

Anonymous said...

The book Lost & Found by J. Sheehan has a character with synesthesia. Thanks, Carlamm

Jessica Strider said...

Thanks for the new titles, I've added them to the list.

@LBT - Several of the books on the list are controversial. Since Xanth is a realm of magic, Bink's lack of magic (perceived as it is), is seen a disability by him and those of his society. Thinking about it now, disability can be as much a perception as a description of actual ability.

memphy said...

In certain comic Hawk eye / Clint Barton is hard of hearing. Apparently it going to come up in the current ongoing series.